Diverse Business Show Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is Social Media Really Worth the Time?

Case studies for considering social media by Tiffany Odutoye

If you still haven’t jumped into the social media bandwagon, which of these is your excuse?

You don’t know much about the power of social media?
You are much too busy with other stuff? Or
You have NO idea of what to do and where to start?

Whatever your problem, we have compiled a few case studies for considering social media. We hope this will show you what you are missing if you are not into social media marketing, right now and here.

Case study #1: Make YOUR brand of coffee from Starbucks:

In March, 2009 Starbucks celebrated the first birthday of mystarbucksidea.com, their first ever and wildly successful blog. Look at the amazing numbers they generated from this new venture.
-         3 million+ unique visitors (as of Nov, 2008)
-         70,000 ideas (as of March, 2009)
-         2 million+ comments (as of Jan, 2009)

Starbucks has a profile on Twitter with an unbelievable following of over 120,000 people!

All this is less than a year! Which paid ad campaign can bring you this kind of publicity?

Mystarbucksidea simply asks people what their mega Starbucks idea is. Starbucks coffee cubes? A customer card? Online coffee orders? Wikis? Whatever it is, just let ‘em know.

The user has to register to post ideas. The company keeps track of these ideas. There’s a voting facility and people can track the status of their ideas. The best ideas get implemented.

This is the perfect example of the power of democracy in business. Mystarbucks is the personification of the company’s insistence that the perfect cup of coffee is all about *YOU*. This platform is the company’s way of telling its customers that it cares about offering people the kind of coffee experience they want.

The success of their blog has several lessons for social media enthusiasts. Starbucks was able to make Starbucksidea something a lot more than a fancy suggestion box. They do this by:
-         Taking action: By allowing users to see the status of their ideas and informing them of the ideas that are being implemented, the company is following through with its promises.
-         Exciting users constantly: User interest is constantly piqued through discussions, Twitter posts and ads placed in stores. Thus, they maintain a constant buzz.
-         Preparing a comprehensive social media strategy: Starbucks unleashed several social media strategies, like their highly popular video at YouTube to encourage people to vote on Nov 4th. This gives them the right public image.

Important lesson:
-         People like to do business with people they ‘like’. ‘Knowing’ is not enough any more.
Heightened likeability = more sales.

Case Study #2: “Execute on Extraordinary Experiences Everyday!”

This is the mantra of the FreshBooks community.

FreshBooks started their online invoicing project in 2004. As of April 2009, more than 800,000 people use FreshBooks to receive, send, print and pay invoices.

According to Mike McDerment, the CEO of FreshBooks, a fantastic product and a great customer community has helped FreshBooks maintain its rapid growth even in the face of the economic downturn.

FreshBooks believes in ‘Executing’ fresh ideas so that people KNOW that things are getting done, and that their think tank is delivering real- time, tangible results.

The ‘Extraordinary’ experience is exceeding the expectations of customers in numerous little ways. One such step is the company taking their customers to dinner. Another example is how the company has a real person responding to enquiries from their website. Not something you’d normally expect. Customers are happy to connect with the people they are buying from.

FreshBooks offers their customers the ultimate ‘Experience’ when using their services. So, their software and their service personnel are friendly, helpful faces that relate with consumers on a personal level.

Finally, the company recreates these refreshing experiences ‘Everyday’ – a simple strategy that keeps customers happy everyday and every time they call.

FreshBooks has been using a number of social media tools to extend their community. It has a good online following at Twitter. This is the place where the company seeks to hold contests, follow up with customer service. Ultimately, their forums, blog and Twitter allow the company to convey the company’s message that “the currency of our business is relationships”.

What a powerful way of putting it into perspective!

Important Lesson:
-         When customers enjoy a positive experience each time they come to you, they endorse you automatically. Your customer base expands on autopilot.

Case Study #3: What women want

When they were thinking of launching a service for working mothers and mothers who wanted to return to the work force, Bradi Nathan and Terry Starr decided to get the answers from the mothers themselves. They conducted a survey on Facebook, asking their friends to forward it to more friends. This was how MyWorkButterfly or as they like to call it ‘Facebook for Moms’ was born. The website was launched in January 2009 - only 4 months ago, and they already claim to have more than 2,000 members and 40,000+ hits every month!

Not bad for a maiden venture.

Important Lesson:
-         The best way to know what your customers want is to ask them; the best way to cultivate your customers is to deliver it to them!

Some of the important lessons that we can learn from case studies like these are:
-         Social media opens the door to a huge and expanding marketplace.
-         Social media is the best way to take your brand/product to your customers
-         Social media allows you to open the doors to meaningful, two-way communication

A well built social network is an excellent channel for business and brand promotion. That is why so many people are obsessed with the idea of growing their social network.

However, planning and strategizing is as important to social media as it is to traditional marketing. 

-         Social media is effective only if it is targeted and constructive, so you must have an action plan before you dive into it
-         Different combinations of tools work for different businesses. Choose yours wisely
-         Consistency is key
-         Transparency is a must
-         Take meaningful, follow up action so that visitors are motivated to respond to your call of action

As an enthusiastic entrepreneur puts it, “it might look as if we’re wasting time chatting up strangers on Facebook and Twitter. But, all the while, we are developing precious contacts, and you never know which one of these contacts, or all of them, opens the doors to business opportunities.”

So, if you are not making use of social media to connect with your community, you are forfeiting an important marketing strategy.

Resource Box:

Tiffany Odutoye, Expert Idea Generator, Virtual Business Owner, Speaker and Coach with a passion for Social Media. 

Publisher of the book: "Now What Do I Do-An Entrepreneur's Guide to Getting to the Next Step with Social Media" - Learn more at http://www.talksocialnetworking.com http://www.virtualpartner.biz and http://www.nowwhatdoido.info.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

5 Powerful Website Conversion Strategies that Sell by Felicia Davis

No sales conversation is complete without a closing. If you don’t ask for the sale…well you’re not going to make a sale. It’s imperative to ask for the sale if you want it. There are actually a number of techniques to close the sale in your web copy. I’m going to share five of the most common and effective ways that allow your website to close the sale for you. However, before I share these techniques, you should know that authenticity is your first priority. Whether you use one or all of these strategies, ALWAYS be honest, true to you and implement them in your own authentic voice. Ready… Let’s go!

1. Reduce Price Perception
One of the reasons many people fail to make a purchase is that the item costs too much. They are ready to purchase and then the price stops them. When they’re seeking justification for their buying decision they just can’t find it. You can reduce the price perception by using a few techniques.
For example, you have probably heard the “For less than a cup of coffee a day,” price comparison. When you compare the price to other things which are more expensive or break it down into a daily cost suddenly your price doesn’t seem as steep.

You might also provide a comparison. For example, “a total value of $1000 but is yours for only $150.”
Finally letting your prospect pay in installments is a very effective way to help them overcome the price perception.

2. Scarcity or Urgency
You can only use scarcity or urgency if it is truly scarce or urgent. For example, you cannot tell people that they must buy now because the price is going up next week and then fail to raise the price. That tactic will get you into trouble with your prospects.
Scarcity and urgency motivate your prospect to take action right now. Common examples include:
Only 10 left!
Buy now, limited number of copies
Buy now before the price goes up

3. Reverse the Risk with a Money Back Guarantee
Many people are afraid to do this because they don’t want people to fraudulently return products. And the truth is that you may get some people who return your product. However, you’ll also sell way more products and close many more sales if you offer a simple guarantee. Include it right below your final call to action.

4. Postscript
Interestingly enough, studies have found that when people read sales pages they often skip right to the bottom of the page. They read the P.S or postscript. If you have a few compelling postscripts, they can make the difference between a sale and a click away. Under your call to action include at least one P.S. You can of course include more. Simply recap the main benefits of your product.

5. Increase the Value by Including Bonuses
Ever notice that some sales pages seem to offer bonuses that are more valuable than the actual product? It’s not uncommon to see a sales page with dozens of bonuses. It might look a little silly but at some point the prospect will start to think, “I absolutely have to buy, the value is just too good to pass up.” The bonus offers usually come after the call to action. On television it’s the “But wait, there’s more” list of offers. Make sure that the bonuses are relevant to your offer, don’t go overboard with your bonuses and ensure that they will be perceived as valuable.

Closing the sale can involve one or a few of these techniques. Test and track them to find out which techniques your audience responds to. You may find that your sales page doubles in conversions with a simple closing technique.

Felicia Davis is the founder of www.SmallBizLaunch.com, a company devoted to helping new, emerging and aspiring women entrepreneurs build heart-centered, profit-driven businesses from the inside out.
Felicia is also a strong advocate for young girls and is the founder of Joyful Transformations, Inc., a community-benefit, 501(c)3 leadership development and mentoring organization for girls ages 9-18. JTI delivers workshops, teen forums and retreats focused on helping girls grow, be self-sustained and reach back to mentor another generation of leaders.

Hear her on the Diverse Business Show

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Off My Chest: Why I Hate The Hookup (Guest post from Alfred Edmond, BE)

Want to support black entrepreneurs? Stop hitting them up for freebies
Alfred Edmond Jr.
by Alfred Edmond Jr.

Stop me if you've heard this one. Richard, a black comedian calls his white friend: "Hey, Chad. Just wanted to let you know: I'll be in town next week to do a show. Hope you can make it."
Chad: "Really? That's great! What night is it? I'll call all of my friends and we'll pack the house! It'll be a blast!"

"Thanks, Chad!," says Richard. "It's on Thursday night. I'll see you then!"

Richard hangs up, excited about the prospect of a big night at the comedy club, which means more gigs. He then he calls his boy, Lamont. (What? You know he's black. How many white, Asian or Latino guys named Lamont do you know? Try to keep up, okay? Anyway...)

Richard: "Monty-Mont! Whassup? It's ya boy, Richy-Rich! Just hollerin' atcha to let you know that I got a gig in town next Thursday. You coming, right?"

Lamont: "Hell, yes, I'm coming! You funny as a mug! Shoot, I'll bring my girl, and tell her to bring her girls, and I'll get Antonio and Big Rob and Lisa to come and get the word out to their peeps, too!"

"Cool!," says Richard. He holds his breath. He knows it's coming.

"You gonna hook us all up, right?," says Lamont.

One of the biggest drags on black entrepreneurial growth and profitability is the "hookup": black people expecting other black people to provide them with free goods and services just because they're black. We need to stop it. Today. NOW.

  • No, she can't hook you up with a few press releases and some public relations for your event.
  • No, he can't hook you up with a few signed copies of his book
  • No, he can't hook you up with a quick shape-up so you can look fly at the club tonight.
  • No, she can't hook you and your momma and aunties up with free tickets to the fashion show.
  • No, she can't hook up a business plan for you real quick.
  • No, she can't deliver the dinner keynote without an honorarium, in return for two tickets at the head table for food she won't get to eat. Because she'll be speaking during the dinner.
  • No, they can't wash your car, pull your teeth, do your hair, fix your computer, edit your manuscript, paint your house, build your Website, etc. for free! Discount? Maybe. Complimentary services for referring new—paying—customers? 
  • Okay. An occasional freebie for long-time, loyal customers who always pay? Sure. Barter my goods or services for yours? We might be able to work something out. But, FREE? NO!
Hello? The point of being in business is to make money! How can entrepreneurs, and black business owners in particular, make money, if they're expected to give their products and services—which costs them money to create, develop, market and deliver—away for free? If you don't spend money with them, they can't spend their money with you. If you won't pay for your haircut, your barber can't pay to eat at your restaurant. If Leslie the auto dealer won't pay a competitive rate for wedding planning, Lisa the wedding planner can't afford to buy a car from Leslie.

Money has to circulate in order for economic empowerment to happen and for black entrepreneurs to have a chance to compete and thrive. You don't support black entrepreneurs by showing up for the hook-up. You support black business by paying up.

When I find a black entrepreneur or professional who provides goods and services I like, I pay for those goods and services—period. I know that there are costs associated with providing a service and making a product, a cost they can only recoup by selling at a profit. I don't want them to hook me up with free stuff. I want to hook them up with my spending, because then they can really hook me up, by creating jobs, growing the local tax base, supporting community organizations, doing business with other black entrepreneurs and professionals—or just having enough money and a predisposition to reciprocate, to buy goods and services (like subscriptions to Black Enterprise) from me and mine.

I want black enterpreneurs to make money. I want them to succeed. I want them to get more than rich. I want to see as many wealthy black entrepreneurs, families and communities as possible. So if I like what they're selling, I'm more than happy—I'm thrilled—to pay for it, and to tell all of my family, friends and associates how great they are.

Do you really want to support black entrepreneurs and black professionals? Stop hitting them up for freebies. If you believe in their products and services, pay for them, as you would for the products and services of any other business. If what they're selling doesn't merit that, why are you patronizing them in the first place? Do you really think you're doing them—or yourself—a favor?

Alfred A. Edmond Jr. is the Sr. VP/editor-at-large of BlackEnterprise.com
Click to Hear him on Diverse Business Show

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Best Practice Viewpoints: Leveraging Technology & Marketing

MMSDC~MBE Orientation & 2nd Quarterly Meeting

Product Development Center (PDC)

21175 Oakwood Boulevard PDC Design Center Showroom (Entrance off of Village Road)
Dearborn MI 48124

Event Description

MMSDC 2nd Quarterly MBE Meeting
Leadership Excellence Series
Sponsored by Ford Motor Company
1:30 2:00 pm
New MBE Orientation
2:00 - 3:30 pm
  • MMSDC Overview / Benefits / Resources & Opportunities
  • Meet the President, Louis Green
  • MBE & Corporate Panel "Best Practice Viewpoints" 

Professional Development Session
 Leveraging Technology & Marketing
4:00 - 5:30pm
Panel discussion featuring "Technology & Marketing Leaders"
  Don't miss this opportunity to gain insight on the benefits and resources of MMSDC, participate in a Professional Development Session and Network with fellow MBEs.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Success Key: FOCUSING And Staying Focused!

Guest post by     Bobb Biehl – Executive Mentor

Every leader I’ve dealt with has struggled, at times, with focus.  Every president loses focus.  The difference between great leaders and the ones that struggle to lead is that great leaders have a way to re-focus.  The top leaders never get out of focus for more than a day or two.  Focus always precedes success – without focus, there is no success.  There are three steps needed to stay focused.


One very profound pivotal concept in keeping a crystal clear focus is time away.  At least once a year, you need to take two or three days away from the pace of life to be able to clarify your thoughts.  You have to say, “I’m not going to do anything else – I’m just going to rest.  When I’m well rested, I’ll decide what is really important.” I recommend that you take a little time today to schedule time to get away and rest.


The second thing that is needed is to schedule 2 ½% of your time to focus your priorities.  Many times I have asked people, “Does it make sense to you that if you take 2 ½% of your time to focus, the remaining 97 ½% will be more productive than 100% of your time would be without focus?”  Everyone says, “Yes.” 

I encourage you to schedule half a day each month for the next twelve months – right now!  Don’t allow your schedule to become so full that you don’t set aside this “focus” time – say to yourself, “Today I’m going to think about my priorities to make sure I’m accomplishing my goals.”

When you are taking time to focus, it’s important to say to yourself, “There are a thousand things I could do, but what are the few things I cannot not do?  What are the things I have to focus on?”  Ask yourself, “What is really important and how can I make sure I get that done?”


Executives are often asked to do fifteen different things at a time.  It rarely works.  You have to concentrate your ability on getting one thing done at least 60% of your time for the project to launch properly.  Ask yourself, “What is worthy of 60% of my time?”  Then get it done, leaving 40% of your time to finish the rest of your “to do” list.


The difference between great leaders and the ones that struggle to lead is that great leaders have a way to focus / re-focus.  The top leaders never get out of focus for more than a day or two.  Focus always precedes success – without focus, there is no success.

Note: Adapted from a CD titled: Focusing by Asking!   Available at www.BobbBiehl.com